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‘Celdran long forgiven by Catholic church’

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Catholic Church has long forgiven the reproductive health advocate who shouted during a mass at Manila Cathedral that the church must stop meddling in government affairs and then raised a placard with the word “Damaso.”

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle yesterday said that tour guide Carlos Celdran has been forgiven and set the record straight that “it was not the church which filed the case against Celdran.”

“As far as the church is concerned, it is over,” Tagle said.

“When they appealed to us for forgiveness, former Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales immediately after that said he is forgiven. It was the people of the Philippines vs. him.  It’s a criminal case,” he added.

Celdran wrote a letter asking Pope Francis to talk to the bishops to forgive him after the Court of Appeals (CA) upheld his conviction for the crime of offending religious feelings for his “Damaso act” in 2010. Padre Damaso is the antagonist priest in Jose Rizal’s novel “Noli me Tangere.”

In his Facebook account, Celdran posted:

“Dear #PopeFrancisPH #Pontifex My name is Carlos Celdran and I am a citizen of the Philippines and a Catholic. I received news that my legal appeal was denied. I am one step closer to being incarcerated for the crime of ‘offending the religious feelings’ of Filipino bishops back in September 30, 2010 (article 133 of Philippine Penal Code). Please have a word with the bishops of the Philippines. Truth be told, I don’t mind going to jail. I only wish that your message of forgiveness, reason, and tolerance finally reaches their hearts and their minds. I heartfully hope this message reaches you and thank you for your consideration. Love, a humble member of your Filipino flock.”

After the incident, Rosales gave instructions for the Archdiocese of Manila not to file a case against Celdran. However, Monsignor Nestor Cerbo of Manila Cathedral reportedly filed a complaint against Celdran.

Judge Juan Bermejo Jr. of the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 4 ruled that Celdran was guilty of violating Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code. He was sentenced to imprisonment ranging from two months and 21 days up to 13 months and 11 days.

The Manila Regional Trial Court upheld the conviction before Celdran elevated his appeal to the CA.

In a 23-page decision, the 12th Division of the CA dismissed his petition seeking the reversal of the guilty verdict.

The CA agreed with the ruling of the lower court that “the right to free speech does not guarantee an unbridled license to say whatever one may wish.”

ARCHDIOCESE OF MANILA

CARLOS CELDRAN

CARLOS CELDRAN AND I

CATHOLIC CHURCH

CELDRAN

COURT OF APPEALS

DAMASO

JOSE RIZAL

JUDGE JUAN BERMEJO JR. OF THE MANILA METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT BRANCH

MANILA

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